The computer generated graphics are about half a century old but are starting to feel more and more real with the help of technology’s progress and the general trend is to improve them up to the point where it can easily trick the brain into a new reality, either a completely virtual one or an augmented version of the existing.
The incentives of the graphic industry’s evolution are the available computational power, our increasing need to feel connected in a globalized world and the application of existing knowledge in new areas. Using these 3 pillars, what started out as a simple representation built from lines and dots in a 2D environment requiring a lot of imagination to be regarded as real objects, has now grown into fully immersive experience.
A permanent trend in computer graphics is the continuous improvement of the graphical processors’ computational power. The most recent powerhouse in a chip is capable of thousands of billions of operations per second, otherwise called teraflops. The press release cited by a recent tech article reads:
“ AMD introduced the world’s most powerful platform for virtual reality (VR), capable of both creating and consuming VR content. AMD’s Radeon™ Pro Duo with its LiquidVR™ SDK is a platform aimed at most all aspects of VR content creation: from entertainment to education, journalism, medicine and cinema. With an astonishing 16 teraflops of compute performance, AMD offers a complete degree solution aimed at all aspects of the VR developer lifestyle: developing content more rapidly for tomorrow’s killer VR experiences while at work, and playing the latest DirectX® 12 experiences at maximum fidelity while off work.”
However impressive this might sound, it will soon be yesterday’s news, as following the exponential development of the industry and pretty soon we will be seeing today’s VR in a similar manner to the graphics of Pac-Man game since today’s state of the art tech doesn’t completely solve the problems that would close the gap between virtual and real: pixelation, latency, the number of frames per second, vergence accommodation and peripheral view.
In a world were distances are shrinking due to globalization, yet travelling is not always an option, people still feel the need to be connected to friends and family and the solution lies in technological advancements. VR can be regarded as the next logical step after chatting and video-calling. As Mike Schroepfer from Facebook explains about the organization’s 10 year strategic plans which include world-wide connectivity, artificial intelligence and VR:
“[…]most of us have friends or family who are not physically next to us all the time, and we cannot always be there for the most important moments in life. The state of the art technology we have for that right now is the video camera. If I want to capture a moment with my kids and remember it forever, that is the best we can do right now. The question is, ‘What if I want to be there live and record those moments in a way that I can relive them twenty years from now as if I was there?’ That is where virtual reality comes in. It gives you the capability of putting a headset on and experiencing it today, and you feel like you are in a real world somewhere else, wherever you want to be.”
We will probably see the influence of VR not only in personal interactions, but also in changing the norms in medicine, teaching or even travelling.
All these advancements would not be possible without research and development and giving new applications to existing knowledge from physics and mathematics. Scientists from Caltech took a well-known quantum mechanics equation (Schrodinger’s) and modified it to represent accurately the movement of special fluids like smoke. The leader of the research team explains:
“Since we are computer graphics folks, we are interested in methods that capture the visual variety and drama of fluids well,” says Schröder. “What’s unique about our method is that we took a page from the quantum mechanics’ ‘playbook.’”
As a tribute to the evolution of the computer graphics, to see just how far we’ve come, enjoy this trip down memory lane of games, from 1952 to 2015.
Thanks to Doranix for this great contribution. For more information about Doranix’s products visit them at www.doranix.com.